Halo Wars 2 – Campaign Impressions

Yes, the folks at 343 Industries decided to give me an early copy of Halo Wars 2 (the Ultimate Edition, no less) – which, as you would probably expect, I am ecstatic about!

It’s been eight years (eight long years) since the original game launched Halo into the RTS genre for consoles, which, at the same time, sort of brought the series back to its roots from its earlier iterations as an RTS title. As I’ve previously discussed, I really love the original Halo Wars, and having fully played through the campaign for the sequel now I’m excited to share some of my thoughts on the next chapter of the Spirit of Fire’s journey.

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for some aspects of the first four missions, including two cutscenes – both of which have been prominently featured in the game’s marketing since it was announced, so these are only minor. There is also brief mention of the Phoenix Logs, as well as vague tonal/thematic statements about the game as a whole. All images used are from officially released trailers and previews.atriox5 Continue reading

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Mendicant Bias – The Thirteenth Child

“One thought for all eternity,” said Mendicant Bias. His tone sounded almost wistful. Now the lights were fading, flickering, going dark. “Atonement.”

The tomb turned as black as night. The machine’s final words spread across the false desert and echoed moments later from the false mountains. Bornstellar, Riser, Trial, Chant, and all the rest watched silently as the rest of Mendicant Bias, locked in eternal exile, was covered by sand. [Halo: Rebirth, The Trial of Mendicant Bias]

With the eight year wait for Halo Wars 2 now approaching eight days, heralding the long-awaited, long-theorised return to the Lesser Ark, I felt it was time to return to a bit of theorycrafting regarding a character who has been at the heart of some of the Halo universe’s biggest mysteries and galaxy-defining events.

The so-called “bastard child” of the Didact and the Master Builder, the thirteenth child of the former, whose true name is spoken but never heard. It begs a question for us to ponder that we might unknowingly have the answer to…

Who and what is Mendicant Bias?mult181 Continue reading

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Two Corpses, One Grave – On Halo 3 and the Gravemind

Ah, Halo 3… This is something that I have seldom talked about beyond a few vague mentions in the past. Not for any particular reason, though it’s probably worth noting that I don’t have what one might call the most popular opinion when it comes to the story of the final game in Bungie’s original Halo trilogy.

Since it’s Halo 3’s ten-year anniversary (blimey!) in just under eight months, I thought that this would be a good opportunity to dive into a topic that I’ve been sitting on for about two years now.

That topic is Halo 3’s portrayal of the Gravemind, focusing on three main areas:

1 – What are some of the positives and negatives regarding how it was written?

2 – What were some of the complexities of the character that Bungie cut (that can still be evidenced in hidden dialogue files)?

3 – What was the Gravemind’s actual plan and how does it tie in with IRIS, Halo 3’s Terminals, and the Forerunner Saga?gravemind Continue reading

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Human Weakness – Ruminations On Cortana

Remember how I said that I was intending to write more positive Halo pieces?

Well, I started out on the right track. I went back to older fiction with the intent of looking for some lore to analyse and discuss, thinking that Evolutions would be a good bet (as it has been for me in the past where I’ve written about specific stories like Soma The Painter)…

And then I started rereading Human Weakness.

Before I knew it, I was compiling a copiously large list of quotes that so beautifully encapsulated Cortana’s arc – the set-up for Halo 4 – and a clear set of contradictions to her characterisation in Halo 5. I also happened to have a half-finished post already in the works about Cortana, a one year retrospective on Halo 5’s first birthday that I ditched in-favour of the rumination on Reach, so this just naturally came together.cm1 Continue reading

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Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – A Narrative Appraisal

What’s this? A non-Halo post?

Yes, once upon a time, I did not write exclusively about Halo, which ended after September in 2014 – shortly following the one year anniversary of this blog. It’s been almost three and a half years for me now, a good two of those years have been solely focused on one particular franchise… so I thought that, with it being the new year ‘n’ all, now was the time to branch out again.

This doesn’t mean that my Halo content will be decreasing at all, but sometimes there will be something else that comes along that I want to talk about.

Today, it’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. And, oh boy, there’s a lot to talk about!

(As this is an analysis of the campaign, here’s your obvious spoiler warning – no detail is held back here.)cod0 Continue reading

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Reimagining the Guardians

What’s this? Another post within the space of two days?

I wasn’t actually expecting to write another article in such a short amount of time, but I’ve spent some of the weekend going over my notes for Hunters in the Dark for Halo Wars 2-related purposes, and then this morning (now yesterday morning at the time of editing this post for release) I came across this awesome piece of fan art by Jabberwacky on Reddit which clicked an idea in my head.

Well, it wasn’t so much an idea as it was a question.

To what extent could we un-break the setting if we replaced the Guardians with Retriever Sentinels?

retriever Continue reading

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Reach Ruminations

Oh, hello!

It has been a little while, hasn’t it? That happens every now and then, life gets in the way and prevents me from doing the truly important things – like writing copious amounts about fictional universes (and, boy, have I written a lot for you all to digest today).

I had actually written up a post to be released on October 27th, doing a one year retrospective on ‘Halo 5 Cortana’ following the story Dominion Splinter in Tales From Slipspace. But I simply lost the will to finish and post it. Even after the passage of a year, the mere thought of that and the years we’re going to have to endure it instills a sense of fatigue in me that just puts me off writing.

Instead, I decided to turn to the last Halo game that made me feel this way and do a proper rumination on it to see the extent to which my opinion of the campaign may or may not have changed. (I should probably preface this now by saying that it has… a little bit.)

So come beat this dead horse with me one more time for a lengthy and critical look at Bungie’s ‘swan song’, Halo: Reach.re5 Continue reading

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